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‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ at WCSU

Image from Western Connecticut State University production of "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui"
Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts production of “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” cast members (l-r): Will Stewich, Mark Sumner, Ryan Henry and Brandon Richardi.

DANBURY, Conn. — The Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts will present Bertolt Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” from Oct. 16-27, 2019, in the Studio Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. A preview performance will be at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 (high school night). Public showings will be at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18; Saturday, Oct. 19; Sunday, Oct. 20; Friday, Oct. 25, Saturday, Oct. 26; and Sunday, Oct. 27; with 2 p.m. matinees on both Saturday and Sunday performance dates.

According to WCSU Professor of Theatre Arts Pam McDaniel, the show’s director and producer, ‘“The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ is a parable about the rise of authoritarianism. Originally written in 1941, the play used the Capone mobsters of 1930s Chicago as depicted in the gangster films of that era to parallel the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany. Brecht’s intent was for the play to serve as a warning to the United States, which was maintaining a neutral position on Hitler’s aggressions at that time.

“In preparing the performance, we have examined historical film footage and materials from the 1930s, including American gangster movies and footage of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and Mussolini’s rise in Italy,” McDaniel said. “For contemporary sources, we have examined the Brexit debates in the British Parliament, speeches of Marine Le Pen in France, the U.S. presidential debates and recent political rallies.”

Brecht’s original play was not produced until a new version was published in 1956.

“The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui” ran twice on Broadway. The first production was in 1963, with Christopher Plummer in the lead role and Michael Constantine, Elisha Cook, Lionel Stander, Sandy Baron, Oliver Clark and James Coco in the cast. It was directed by Tony Richardson. The second Broadway production was in 1968–69 by the Guthrie Theater Company. It starred Robin Gammell as Ui, and was directed by Edward Payson Call.

It has been presented three times Off-Broadway. In 1991, it was produced by the Classic Stage Company, with John Turturro as Arturo Ui, directed by Carey Perloff. In 2002, it played at the National Actors Theatre, with Ui played by Al Pacino, and Steve Buscemi, Billy Crudup, Charles Durning, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Chazz Palminteri, Sterling K. Brown and Tony Randall (who also produced) in the cast. It was directed by Simon McBurney. The Classic Stage Company tackled it again in 2018, directed by John Doyle with Raúl Esparza in the title role and Eddie Cooper and Elizabeth A. Davis in the supporting cast.

In 2017, Bruce Norris’ adapted version of the play was performed at the Donmar Warehouse in London, with Lenny Henry starring as Arturo Ui.

WCSU Theatre Arts students will perform Norris’ translation. The resulting production, McDaniel said, is “a good old-fashioned gangster musical hall.”

The performance will include double casting of the lead role, with Kat Karl, of Redding, and Mark Sumner, of Middletown, as Auturo Ui. Additional cast members are Bella Bosco, of Delaware, Ohio, as Clark; Colleen Callahan, of Easton, as Betty Dullfeet; Heather Conti-Clark, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, as Dockdaisy; Ryan Henry, of Cortland Manor, New York, as Givola; Anthony Laszlo, of Stamford, as Dogsborough; Brandon Richardi, of Boston, Massachusetts, as Giri; and William Stewich, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, as Roma.

The crew includes Director/Producer Pam McDaniel, Scenic Designer Maureen Freedman, Lighting Designer Scott Cally, Costume Designer Joni Johns-Lerner, Sound Designer Silvio Sweet, Technical Director Thomas Swetz, Production Stage Manager Katie Giradot, Assistant Director Jonah Sydie, Assistant Lighting Designer Stef Carr, Assistant Costume Designer Victoria Wall and Assistant Production Manager Owen Smith.

The production contains profanity and language suitable for mature teens. For tickets, visit


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